Week’s events: EU Jobs Campaign & Blue Star Schools

14th March, 2014

This week was designated EU Jobs Week as a good part of the week was given over to visiting our universities to encourage students and graduates to consider careers in the EU civil service. On Monday I was in DIT Aungier St and DCU, Tuesday was University of Limerick and on Thursday I was in Maynooth.


On each visit I was accompanied by the Head of the European Parliament Information Office, Francis Jacobs; Representative of the European Commission, Joan Flanagan and an EU careers ambassador from each of the respective colleges. Members from European Movement Ireland also attended the Dublin leg of the tour.


The reason behind the drive is that while Ireland is currently very well represented within the EU institutions of the Parliament, the Commission and the Council, a number of retirements are due to take place over the next few years. This means that unless we make a concerted effort to get our graduates to look to the EU for future career options, we may find ourselves underrepresented in the years to come. This not only means that the Irish voice would be diminished at EU level but that the EU would be deprived of the diversity of opinion and representation that allows it to function so well and to serve the interests of all Member States equally.


While the process to secure positions may be very competitive, it is worth noting that two of the five Secretaries General (the top non political job) who have served the Commission have been Irish, and the first, and next, EU Ambassador to the EU is also Irish. This demonstrates the ability of our people to secure the very highest positions out there. My job this week was to encourage them to reach for those heights


On this whistlestop tour Round the country, I also visited a number of schools in the Blue Star programme, which teaches our primary school children about the EU, what membership means and the diversity and prosperity that that brings. On Monday I was in St. Brigid’s in the Coombe and on Thursday I visited Castleknock Educate Together National School. The breadth of knowledge among the children was astounding. They quizzed me on issues ranging from Andorra’s use of the euro to Scottish independence, Ukraine and EU enlargement. The number of nationalities represented in the classrooms was also impressive. In third class at Castleknock ET, there were 27 pupils, representing 14 different nationalities, each of whom greeted me in their national language. Very impressive.


On Wednesday I was in the Dail for statements in advance of the European Council meeting on the 20th-21st March. Thursday, I was in front of the Oireachtas Committee on EU Affairs in advance of the General Affairs Council which is taking place next week. Questions were put to me on Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Crimea. On Friday I was out in the constituency with the good people of Stoneybatter and Ballybough hearing about the issues that concern them.


I’m also nearly finished House of Cards which I’m enjoying immensely. But not nearly as much as as season one.